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U.S. offers to lift Venezuela sanctions for power-sharing deal, shifting policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Tuesday offered to begin lifting Venezuela sanctions if the opposition and members of President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist Party form an interim government without him, marking a shift in a U.S. policy that has failed to end his grip on power.

With the South American nation squeezed by low world oil prices, a spreading coronavirus pandemic and a U.S. economic pressure campaign, Washington moved to a more toned-down approach aimed at promoting fair elections as soon as this year to end the political crisis there.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally announced the administration’s power-sharing “Democratic Transition Framework” for Venezuela, which proposes for the first time a “sequenced exit path” from tough U.S. sanctions, including on the vital oil sector, if Maduro and his allies cooperate.

But it will be no easy task to draw Maduro or his associates onto a path of political reconciliation with opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as the legitimate interim president.

Maduro has held onto power despite repeated U.S. efforts to oust him and shown no willingness to seriously negotiate an end to his rule. As such, Tuesday’s announcement could be seen as a bid by the administration to cut its losses and move on.

Under the U.S. proposal, both Maduro and Guaido would step aside and neither would be part of the transitional government.

The initiative comes less than a week after the U.S. government took a more confrontational tack, indicting Maduro and more than a dozen other current and former top Venezuelan officials on charges of “narco-terrorism,” accusations he dismissed as false and racist.

Maduro’s staying power has become a source of frustration for President Donald Trump, U.S. officials have said privately. Maduro retains the backing of the military as well as Russia, China and Cuba.

But the Trump administration hopes an energy dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia that has contributed to the plunging price of oil – Maduro’s main financial lifeline – and the growing coronavirus threat will help make Maduro and his loyalists more pliable.

“The regime is now under heavier pressure than it has ever been,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told Reuters earlier. “Maybe this pressure will lead to a serious discussion within the regime.”

The U.S. proposal, which Abrams said was approved by Trump, calls for the opposition-controlled National Assembly “to elect an inclusive transitional government acceptable to the major factions.” A council of state would govern until it oversees elections, which Pompeo said the United States hoped could be held in six to 12 months.

Though the administration has never wavered in public about its support for Guaido, he has struggled to muster the street protests of his first few months as opposition leader. Ordinary Venezuelans, weighed down by food shortages and hyperinflation, have increasingly expressed disappointment at his failure to achieve a change of government.

Venezuela’s foreign ministry dismissed the U.S. proposal as “an effort to win geopolitical advantage in the midst of a frightening global pandemic.” Abrams, in a conference call with reporters, called the Venezuelan government’s response “totally predictable.”

QUESTIONS ABOUT MADURO’S FUTURE

In an apparent softening of tone, Abrams told Reuters that while Maduro would have to step aside, the plan did not call for him to be forced into exile and even suggested that he “could theoretically run” in the election.

Pompeo insisted that “Nicolas Maduro will never again govern Venezuela,” but said the administration hoped he would take the U.S. proposal seriously.

“If the conditions of the framework are met, including the departure of all foreign security forces,” Pompeo told reporters, “then all remaining U.S. sanctions would be lifted.”

With experts deeming OPEC member Venezuela among the countries that could be hardest hit by the coronavirus, Guaido proposed over the weekend the formation of an emergency government of members across the political spectrum.

The U.S. plan seeks to build on the effort by Guaido as well as a failed round of negotiations between the two sides in Barbados last year, which the Trump administration dismissed at the time.

The proposal represents a significantly less bellicose tone from the administration’s pronouncements since January of last year, when Guaido invoked the constitution to assume a rival interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was a sham. Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet.

Asked whether the new proposal indicated the United States was backing away from Guaido, Pompeo said the administration remained “supportive of the work that the rightful president of the Venezuelan people, Juan Guaido, is engaged in.”

But the success of the plan, which calls for power-sharing between the Guaido-led opposition and Socialist lawmakers, would ultimately hinge on Socialist leaders turning on Maduro, the same strategy that Guaido has been unable to execute.

Under the proposal, individual sanctions on dozens of Venezuelan government officials could be lifted as soon as they give up their posts during the transition.

Broader economic sanctions, including on Venezuela’s oil sector and state oil company PDVSA, would be removed only after Maduro leaves office and all Cuban security forces and small Russian contingent are withdrawn, Abrams said.

“People should hire lawyers and start talking to the Department of Justice,” he added, saying the proposal would not have a mechanism to revoke U.S. indictments against Maduro and his loyalists.

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Merkel left red faced as Italian MPs mention Nazi reparations in coronavirus support row

Angela Merkel was asked to consider the colossal debts racked up by Adolf Hitler’s evil war efforts some 81 years ago today. Rome has become infuriated with the German Chancellor after she helped block the creation of so-called “coronabonds”, a shared Eurozone debt mechanism to help prop up economies worst-affected by the global pandemic. In an open letter to the veteran leader, 12 Italian politicians, including the mayors of Venice and Bergamo, called on Mrs Merkel to reconsider her position.

“Currently the Netherlands are leading a group of countries, though, which resist this strategy, and Germany also seems to want to follow this group,” they wrote.

“The Netherlands are the one state, which has been evading taxes of the important European countries with its tax system for years. Our public budgets and the socially weak in our countries who have to pay the price for this. Those who are most affected by the crisis.

“The Dutch attitude is in every aspect an example of a lack of ethics and solidarity. But it was solidarity which was shown to you Germans after the war and until reunification by many European countries.”

The group were keen to remind Mrs Merkel that Hitler’s war machine run up debts of over €15 billion, in the Germany’s original deutsche mark currency.

They accused her of ignoring the generosity of Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, who have all voiced support for the creation of coronabonds, in halving the German debt in 1953.

“After 1945 the German debt had reached the amount of what was 29.7 billion deutsche mark,” the group wrote.

“Germany would never have been able to pay back the accumulated debt. In 1953 in London, 21 countries allowed for cutting the debt in half and the deferment of payments of the rest of the debt.

“This way German was able to avoid state bankruptcy. Italy is still proud and convinced of the correctness of the decision back then. And we repeat: with the eurobonds for the fight against coronavirus old debts are neither cancelled, nor shared.”

Despite the growing support for a joint Eurozone debt instrument, the single currency bloc’s bailout chief has warned it could take years to set up.

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Klaus Reglung, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, said any short-term lending programmes would have to come from existing structures.

He said if the goal is to cover short-term lending to bolster healthcare or support businesses “then I think the only way is to use existing institutions with existing instruments”.

He told the Financial Times it was possible to create a new bespoke EU institution if there were political agreement between European capitals.

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However, he added: “It would take one, two or three years, and member states have to come up with capital or guarantees, or assign future revenue.

“One cannot create bonds out of nothing.”

Eurogroup finance ministers are currently debating the plans, which are expected to be returned to leaders in the coming weeks.

Last week EU heads of state refused to sanction coronabonds and instead told officials to work on new plans to prop up the bloc’s ailing economy. 

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Exclusive: U.S. calls for broad Venezuela transitional government, lays out proposal for sanctions relief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is calling for a transitional government in Venezuela made up of the opposition and some members of President Nicolas Maduro’s Socialist Party and is laying out for the first time how U.S. sanctions might eventually be lifted, including on the vital oil sector.

With the South American nation squeezed by a U.S. economic pressure campaign, low world oil prices and a spreading coronavirus pandemic, Washington was set on Tuesday to unveil a more toned-down approach aimed at promoting fair elections this year to end the political crisis there, U.S. officials said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to announce the administration’s “Democratic Transition Framework” for Venezuela, which, according to a document seen by Reuters, offers a detailed, “sequenced exit path” from tough U.S. sanctions if Maduro and his allies cooperate.

But it will be no easy task to draw Maduro, who has held onto power despite a steady escalation of U.S. efforts to oust him, into a process of political reconciliation.

The initiative comes less than a week after the U.S. government took a more confrontational tack, indicting Maduro and more than a dozen other current and former top Venezuelan officials on charges of “narco-terrorism,” accusations he dismissed as false and racist.

Maduro’s staying power has become a source of frustration for President Donald Trump, U.S. officials have said privately. Maduro retains the backing of the military as well as Russia, China and Cuba.

“The regime is now under heavier pressure than it has ever been,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told Reuters, previewing the plan. “Maybe this pressure will lead to a serious discussion within the regime.”

The U.S. proposal, which Abrams said was approved by Trump, calls for Maduro to “step aside” and for the opposition-controlled National Assembly “to elect an inclusive transitional government acceptable to the major factions” and then oversee elections in late 2020.

But in what appears to be a softening of the U.S. tone toward Maduro, Abrams said the plan did not call for him to be forced into exile and even suggested that he “could theoretically run” in the election.

RESISTANCE SEEN FROM SOCIALIST LAWMAKERS

With experts deeming OPEC member Venezuela among the countries that could be hardest hit by the coronavirus, opposition leader Juan Guaido proposed over the weekend the formation of an emergency government of members across the political spectrum to fight the respiratory disease.

The U.S. plan seeks to build on the effort by Guaido, who has been recognized by the United States and more than 50 other nations as the country’s rightful president, as well as a failed round of negotiations between the two sides in Barbados last year that the Trump administration dismissed at the time, U.S. officials said.

The proposal represents a significantly less bellicose tone from the administration’s pronouncements since January of last year when Guaido invoked the constitution to assume a rival interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was a sham. Maduro calls Guaido a U.S. puppet.

But the success of the framework, which calls for power-sharing between the Guaido-led opposition and Socialist lawmakers, would ultimately hinge on Socialist leaders turning on Maduro, the same strategy that Guaido has been unable to execute.

U.S. authorities in 2019 offered to lift individual parts of the sanctions in exchange for specific actions by Maduro’s government, but that did not lead Maduro’s allies to accept a deal, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Socialist legislators are again considered likely to reject any U.S. plan or risk being expelled from government ranks.

A fresh offer of sanctions relief, however, seeks to persuade them to peel off from Maduro, whose immediate reaction, Abrams said, “will be to reject this.”

Individual sanctions on dozens of Venezuelan government officials could be lifted as soon as they give up their posts under a transition, Abrams said.

Broader economic sanctions, including on Venezuela’s oil sector and state oil company PDVSA, would be removed only after Maduro leaves office and all “foreign security forces” are withdrawn,” a reference to Cuban operatives and a small Russian contingent, Abrams said.

He said, however, that the proposal would not have a mechanism to revoke criminal indictments against Maduro and alleged accomplices. “People should hire lawyers and start talking to the Department of Justice,” he added.

At the same time, the framework calls for amnesty and creation of a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” while allowing senior military officers, governors and mayors to stay in their positions during the transition period, Abrams said.

Under the plan, the Supreme Court and National Electoral Council would be replaced, political prisoners released and censorship ended, according to the State Department document. Guaido would also step down during the transition.

Abrams said that if the framework were adopted, there would be the possibility of help for Venezuela from the International Monetary Fund and the administration would also ask the U.S. Congress to approve aid.

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Mexico president visits 'El Chapo's' home turf, shakes hands with his mother

BADIRAGUATO, Mexico (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Sunday shook hands with the mother of the country’s most infamous drug trafficker, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, during a visit to their hometown, long a stronghold of the Sinaloa cartel.

In a 30-second video posted on Twitter, Lopez Obrador can be seen approaching the passenger side of Maria Consuelo Loera’s car, parked on a dirt road on the outskirts of Badiraguato, a mountainous municipality in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Surrounded by dozens of onlookers, Lopez Obrador told Loera that she need not get out of the car, they shook hands and after a brief exchange he told the mother of the jailed kingpin that he had “received her letter.” He did not elaborate.

The video then showed Lopez Obrador having a chat with one of El Chapo’s lawyers, Jose Luis Gonzalez Meza.

In October, Mexican officials detained Ovidio Guzman, the son of El Chapo, after shootouts with drug gangs broke out in the streets of Culiacan, a major city, but released him a short while later, drawing public criticism of security policy.

A Reuters witness said that Loera was waiting for Lopez Obrador near the hamlet of La Tuna, El Tuna, birthplace of El Chapo. The president was on an official visit with the state governor.

Numerous people criticized Lopez Obrador on Twitter for greeting El Chapo’s mother and for shaking hands with the woman, who is in her 90s, especially at a time when Mexico is promoting social distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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Rebecca Long-Bailey says Labour leadership contest to end in ‘bizarre’ way

The shadow business secretary said the move was to “deal with these strange times” following lockdown measures in the UK during the Covid-19 outbreak. Ms Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Sir Keir Starmer are the three remaining candidates, with the successor to Jeremy Corbyn due to be announced on April 4. She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I think it’s trying to deal with these strange times and have an announcement on the leadership contest that our members and the public can view from their homes really.

“It’s logistically quite challenging and I think we’ve all been asked to do this victory speech so that it can be send out over the airwaves as quickly as possible after we win.

“I haven’t done mine yet, by the way.”

Asked if she would feel awkward recording the video ahead of the result, Ms Long-Bailey said: “It’s going to be a bit bizarre.”

Ms Long-Bailey did not rule out potentially joining a national unity government if elected as the next Labour leader.

Asked if she would be prepared to join such a government, she told Sky’s Sophy Ridge programme: “I’ve already been collaborating with the government and urging them to listen to my advice and the advice of my colleagues in tackling this crisis, because we want to be as helpful as possible.”

She added: “We are not criticising the government when we are offering our suggestions as to how this crisis can be better dealt with.

“We’re trying to help and that’s what I’ll do as leader, and that’s what I’ll do if I’m not leader, if I’m supporting a new leader.”

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EU crisis: How much money ‘German banks REALLY earned from Greek debt crisis’

The EU is taking unprecedented action to help its members endure the massive economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. However, some nations are resisting the idea of shared borrowing to cover the heavy costs, suggesting that even during this crisis there are limits to solidarity in a bloc that is trying to reaffirm itself after Brexit. The EU’s executive has temporarily set aside its strict rules on spending to give governments the leeway they need to keep their economies afloat.

However, that is not going to be enough, as it will leave the most affected countries, such as Italy, managing their own worsened finances once the crisis has ended.

National governments have so far stopped short of bigger action involving breaking a longstanding taboo: joint borrowing among countries that share the euro currency.

Leaders are expected to discuss the question in a teleconferenced summit today, but Germany and the Netherlands are adamantly opposed to pooling risk across the continent.

Holger Schmieding, the chief economist at Berenberg bank, said: “To which extent Europeans help each other in this acute emergency can shape popular perceptions of what Europe stands for – and for a long time to come.”

As the crisis deepens, unearthed reports reveal how Germany, a leading nation in the Greek bailouts, has earned huge sums in interest payments since the financial crisis.

In 2010, eurozone countries bought €210billion of government paper, including Greek bonds, in order to provide greater liquidity to the EU’s banks as the Greek debt crisis unfolded.

According to figures obtained from Angela Merkel’s government by Germany’s Green Party in 2018, Germany received €2.9billion (£2.5billion) in interest payments on Greek bonds that were bought through a now-defunct bond-buying programme.

Germany also received a total of €400million (£341million) on a loan from the KfW Development Bank.

The original agreement between Berlin and Athens was for any interest earned on the bonds to be paid back to Greece when it fulfilled its reform obligations.

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However, Germany repaid €527million (£449million) of interest payments to Athens in 2013 and €387million (£330million) in 2014.

After Greece’s second bailout programme was agreed in 2015, those repayments stopped, and Berlin accumulated the ongoing interest.

Therefore, Germany is reportedly €2.5billion (£2.1billion) in profit, plus interest of €400million (£341million) on a loan from the KfW development bank.

Sven-Christian Kindler, a Green MP, said in 2018 that Germany had “massively profited from the crisis in Greece”.

He said: “It cannot be the case that the German government consolidates the German budget with billions in Greek interest profits.

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“Greece needs air to breath and room for manoeuvre for investments and fighting poverty in the country.”

Not long after the German government released the figures, eurozone countries agreed to the long-awaited debt relief deal for Athens in June 2018.

The deal gave Athens more time to repay the loans and extended a grace period during which no interest would be taken.

EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said at the time that the agreement meant “the Greek crisis ends here”.

Greece successfully exited the bailouts on August 20, 2018.

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Trump coronavirus fears: How Mike Pence could seize control ‘without Trump’s permission’

The White House announced that the US President tested negative for COVID-19 on March 15, a week after having dinner with a Brazilian delegation, some of whom had tested positive. But with the pandemic still escalating in the US and across the globe, there will be many more times that the 73-year-old President could be putting himself at risk. Older people are more at risk of getting severe symptoms of coronavirus and there is a staggering 8 percent death rate for people in their Seventies.

Over-70s in the UK have even been advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks, but of course, the President will have to be in the midst of the action during this crisis.

In the US Constitution, there are provisions made for what happens if a president dies – their Vice President is to take over – but it was not until 1967 that formal rules were agreed for if the president is “incapacitated” through illness.

The 25th Amendment outlines two mechanisms for which the Vice President can seize power, even if the President is still alive.

Essentially, if a President’s illness makes him unable to discharge duties, the Vice President can take over as Acting President.

Section 3 of the Amendment allows the President to make a written declaration to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of their inability to discharge their duties, either temporarily or indefinitely.

They can later take back the Presidency, by saying they are able to discharge their powers and duties again.

However, if Mr Trump does not voluntarily transfer his powers before his incapacitation, according to Section 4 of the Amendment, the Vice President can essentially take them anyway.

As long as the Vice President has the support of the majority of the Cabinet or some other body “as Congress may by law provide”, they can submit their own written declaration that the President cannot discharge his duties, after which the Vice President immediately assumes the powers and duties of the office.

Therefore, if Mr Trump were to be taken seriously ill very suddenly and was unable or unwilling to officially hand over powers to his Vice President, Mr Pence could take control anyway.

In this scenario, the President can take back the Presidency by sending a letter to the President pro tempore and Speaker of the House, but if the Vice President and Cabinet think the President is still disabled and cannot do their job, they can challenge their return.

They have four days to write another declaration saying the President is still unable to do their job.

Congress then has to get together within 48 hours, if they are not already in session, and have 21 days from then to make a decision.

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In the meantime, the Vice President is still Acting President.

If two-thirds of each House of Congress votes that the President still cannot do his job, the Vice President would continue as Acting President.

If they vote the other way, the President resumes his presidency.

While Section 4 has never been invoked, Section 3 – where the President willingly hands over powers – has been invoked three times by two Presidents for a short time while they underwent medical procedures.

On July 13, 1986, Ronald Reagan underwent colon cancer surgery while under anaesthesia.

His Vice President, George HW Bush, discharged the powers and duties of the presidency during his incapacity, serving as Acting President until later that day.

The next to to do so was George W Bush, who underwent a colonoscopy procedure on June 29, 2002 and again on July 21, 2007.

Vice President Dick Cheney temporarily became Acting President on both occasions.

All three occasions were merely for a few hours, but it is perfectly possible for it to last much longer than this, which might be necessary if Mr Trump were to contract COVID-19.

A severe reaction to coronavirus can cause inflammation in the lungs known as pneumonia, causing shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.

A critical reaction to it can see the body starting to fail as the immune system spirals out of control causing damage throughout the body and multiple organ failure.

It can lead to septic shock when the blood pressure drops to dangerously low levels, acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by widespread inflation in the lungs, damage to the lining of your intestines and and it can stop the kidneys cleaning your blood.

Even for those who recover, they can be left with debilitating long-term health implications.

For example, they can be left with substantially weakened lung capacity, with some gasping for air when walking quickly, according to Hong Kong doctors.

One doctor told the South China Morning Post that in some patients there were signs of “organ damage” but it is so far uncertain whether this could lead to complications such as pulmonary fibrosis.

Patients with reduced lung capacity are encouraged to engage in physiotherapy and cardiovascular exercise to strengthen their lungs.

If Mr Trump were to have a severe or critical disease, he may well have to take a significant period of time off for recovery, leaving Mr Pence in charge.

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Coronavirus shock: New York Mayor to reopen schools mid-pandemic

Mayor Bill De Blasio seeks to reopen education in New York by April 20.

He admitted that the task will be a ‘big challenge,’ but hopes to see students return before the crisis passes.

He also predicted that the worst is yet to come for the epicentre of America’s pandemic.

He revealed the questionable plans at a daily press briefing on Thursday.

The mayor fielded a question about the city’s ability to provide meals to children despite closures.

He said that the meals will be available to students even if the schools don’t reopen, but hopes to reopen them soon

De Blasio said: “We hope to get schools back up on April 20, but that’s going to be a big challenge.”

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On Thursday afternoon, the mayor vitiated Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Three businesses from the area have joined forces to deliver between 15,000 and 18,000 face masks for health care workers.

Duggal, New Lab, and Bednark Studio have called their workers in to begin production.

The companies first created a prototype for the mask on Saturday and quickly began production on Wednesday.

The mayor spoke to the workers at the yard, thanking them for their service.

He said: “Every one of you are heroes right now because you are providing us with supplies that are going to save lives and protect out health care workers, 

“And you make me very proud of New York City and of Brooklyn, seeing that this has been created in a matter of days to protect people and it is an example of how we are going to fight back.”

Supplies are desperately needed in the state, with many hospitals running low of protective equipment.

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Another stop on the Mayors tour of the disease stricken state was Elmhurst hospital.

Before his visit, he said the health care facility has become “the number one priority of out public hospital system.

“We’ve moved in 40 more ventilators and added more staff to increase capacity. Yesterday Elmhurst was running nearly three times the number of ICU beds than usual,

“Right now Elmhurst hospital is holding its own, but we are in a race against time and we need more federal help immediately.”

The visit to elmhurst comes after news that some staff are forced to reuse protective equipment.

One health care worker has died from coronavirus, while some workers have been asked to wear trash bags instead of hospital gowns.

New York as of Thursday has over 37’000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

385 have died from the disease, with 100 deaths confirmed in the space of one day.

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US Senate unanimously passes TRILLION dollar coronavirus package

The bill passed by a vote of 96 to 0, showing unanimous bipartisan support for the bill.

The vote ends days of deadlock and debate over provisions for American people and businesses

It’s now sent to the House Of Representatives for the next stage of debate.

The emergency legislation is the largest economic relief bill in US history.

The package is expected to provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year.

The payments extend to $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child. 

The benefit is reduced by $5 for each $100 the taxpayer makes, assisting poorer workers.

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The legislation is the product of crisis compromise between a bitterly divided political system in America.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that the House of Representatives vote will be “a good debate on the floor.”

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday about fears the bill doesn’t go far enough, she said: What is important is for us to recognize the good that is in the bill, appreciate it for what it does. Don’t judge it for what it doesn’t because we have more bills to come,

“At the start of all this we had two bills, which were about emergencies … and the emergency isn’t over, but the focus was on those two bills. Now we’re mitigating for the damage of it all to the health and to the livelihood of the American people,

She added: “That is in this bill. And then we will go forward for recovery. Emergency, mitigation, recovery.

”And again all along the way still addressing the emergency and mitigation needs by focusing on how we build the economy in a positive way as we meet the health needs of the American people.”

She has said she’s “very pleased (…) congressional Democrats were able to turn upside down the bill that was presented at the beginning of the weekend.

“It was a trickle-down, corporate bill. It is now a bubble-up, workers bill and we’re very proud of that.”

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The package is intended as relief for an economy falling fast into recession.

This comes along with America facing a devastating toll from an infection that’s killed nearly 20,000 people worldwide.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reticent to allow the unprecedented aid to continue for too long, as the bill costs half the annual federal budget.

He said: “We’ve anticipated three months. Hopefully, we won’t need this for three months.”

The US currently has 64’180 cases of Coronavirus based on available testing.

As of Thursday, 897 have died after contracting the virus.

New York remains the most afflicted state, with its dense population leading to over 30’000 cases.

Michigan, California and Washington are all around the 2’500 mark, as the pandemic rages across the US.

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New York coronavirus Fears as ‘freight train’ virus to devastate US – shock chart

The state itself has recorded 210 deaths at the time of writing, a third of the US’ total. There have also been a confirmed 25,000 cases, with state officials warning of an impending crisis which will soon rapidly spread across the country. Although only recently hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, New York is on a trajectory worse than Madrid and the Italian region of Lombardy – the heart of the country’s outbreak – according to date from the Financial Times.

With cases in New York threatening to spread worldwide, the WHO also admitted the US could soon become the epicentre of the coronavirus.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday: “One of the forecasters said to me: ‘We were looking at a freight train coming across the country.’

“We’re now looking at a bullet train.

“The apex is higher than we thought and the apex is sooner than we thought.”

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Mr Cuomo also accused the government of not sending enough equipment needed to stop the crisis.

An estimated 400 ventilators were sent to New York from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A further 2,000 more will be sent by Wednesday US Vice President Mike Pence confirmed, although Mr Cuomo stated that was still not enough.

However, the Governor criticised that small number and insisted many more will be needed if they are to contain the crisis.

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He said: “We need federal help and we need the federal help now.

“New York is the canary in the coal mine, New York is happening first, what is happening to New York will happen to California and Illinois, it is just a matter of time.”

Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force has also revealed an estimated one in every 1,000 New Yorkers have been exposed to the virus.

She also indicated those leaving the country’s most populated city could create new clusters of the virus.

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“To everyone who has left New York over the past few days, because of the rate of infection, you may have been exposed before you left.

“We are starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggests people have left the city.”

Due to the crisis in New York, other states have moved to block entry for those who have travelled from the state.

On Monday, the Governor of Florida, Ronald DeSantis signed an executive order requiring those from New York to self-isolate for two weeks.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said: “What we’re seeing now is that, understandably, people want to get out of New York.

“They’re going to Florida, they’re going to Long Island.

“We don’t want that to be another seeding point for the rest of the country, wherever they go.”

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